Mobile Marketing with QR Codes, Right and Wrong Ways

By Ian Fernando

I was reading my subscription of Fast Company and I notice quite a few mobile marketing tactics within the magazine. Some companies have started to adopt the QR marketing method to have users interact with their message. Great! I decided to play around with the QR codes and see what information it would provide to me.

One thing I quickly realize is some QR codes are too crowded, meaning the barcodes are much tighter and smaller. I personally have done QR marketing on this blog, with dating offers, on Facebook, etc. So the most important factor is the barcode itself, if it is unscannable it is useless.

I tried to scan a QR code within the magazine for Lending Tree and it was unscannable. The reason is because it is too crowded. Each little black square is tightly surrounded by another, there is very little white space, and it just doesn't look appealing. I took a snapshot with my iPhone and here is the image.

Try to scan this QR code below. I personally use Red Laser (iPhone) to scan any type of bar code. Were you able to scan the barcode? Probably not. The barcode is just too tight.

The reason why this barcode is heavily crowded is because there is a lot of information on it. Either there is a text message or a long URL. Those are the only reasons why I think this barcode is overcrowded. I will not know for sure unless I am able to pull the information from the QR code itself.

Lending Tree was not able to pass their message to their consumers with this QR code.

Now still browsing through the magazine, I found other QR barcodes and they are much more appealing and easier to scan, almost instant. This is because there is more white space surrounding the barcode, the bars are much bigger, and it looks attractive to scan. It doesn't look crowded, more importantly it is usable.

Now scan the barcode below to see what USPS wants to relay to their consumers.

Even though I posted these pics on this blog, you should be able to scan 1 of the 2 QR codes. As long as the image is clear and it isn't crowded, then the message can be relayed to your users. This QR code was a successful campaign because it was a shortened URL, giving the QR code more room to expand its blocks, meaning bigger squares and more white space.

It is a big difference when trying to get users to interact and they are not able too. From this quick small comparison you can see the big difference in the bar codes and why which one failed and the other was probably more successful.

Here are some tips on how to get your QR code easily scanned:

  • Use small direct messages - long messages will just crowd your QR code
  • Use shortened hyperlinks instead of messages, if they are on their phone most likely they have internet
  • Access to FREE QR Generator to see how your code can look like and appeal to users
  • If you want users to know your contact, send them to a virtual card (IanFernando.Me) - I have a mobile version as well.
  • Make sure you have your sites optimized for mobile friendly phones, iPhones and Androids.

These are just small steps when getting into the mobile marketing space, there are a lot more variables to look at. In regards to QR codes, these are some steps which you should think about when doing any type of QR marketing.

Mobile marketing is still a young infant, learning everyday and ready to grow. We have to think a couple more steps ahead when handling such a new born marketing method.

BTW... were you able to scan the first QR code? What did it say? Leave it in the comments.

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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